I’ve been thinking about book reviews today after reading some fairly critical reviews of Ian McEwan’s new novel, Solar.  It’s made me wonder what people going to say about my book when it comes out.  Generally, I don’t mind getting feedback on my writing but having someone review my book isn’t like getting feedback from an editor or workshop group because in that process, I can go back and make changes to my novel before anyone ever sees it.  But, even if I agree with a negative comment that a reviewer makes about my book, there’s not much I can do about it because the book will have been published and printed and permanent. 

So do reviews influence book purchases?  Well I’m unlikely to go and buy Solar after reading the reviews so I guess they do.  Perhaps that’s because I’m not a huge McEwan fan at the best of times; I loved Atonement, enjoyed Saturday (thought the denouement was a bit overdone) but was only lukewarm on Enduring Love.  And reviewing must surely be influenced by personal taste – my favourite book is The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood but some of my friends hated that book so we would both have give it different reviews.  I suppose the trick is to make sure my book gets reviewed by someone who’s going to like it.  Now if only I could plan that in advance …

3 comments

  1. marlish glorie

    I think reviews of books to an extent, count. Of course they do.
    But I think for any writer, try and ignore reviews, it’s more about your writing career in the long run. Take the scenic route, but write like you’re on a freeway.

    Personally I can’t stomach Ian McEwan, all that beautiful writing about nothing. Twenty six pages to describe getting out of bed or opening a door. Gimme a break. Having said that – I loved Chesil Beach, which was a pretty pared down book for McEwan.

  2. Hi Marlish, I love the idea of taking the scenic route and that’s actually a really good way to describe my writing process – meandering all over the place with each step forward eventually getting me to the final page, even though I had no idea of the ending of the book, or even a large part of the plot for that matter, when I started writing it. And I’ll take your advice – ignore all the bad reviews but pin the good ones up all over the wall of my study!

  3. marlish glorie

    really hope you have a cinemascope sized wall in your study to pin all the great reviews on! (bit like the giant Millennium one in Freo)

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